Cunnilingus

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A woman performing cunnilingus on another woman Wiki-cunnilingus.png
A woman performing cunnilingus on another woman

Cunnilingus is an oral sex act performed by a person on the vulva or vagina of another person. [1] [2] The clitoris is the most sexually sensitive part of the human female genitalia, and its stimulation may result in a woman becoming sexually aroused or achieving orgasm. [3] [4] [5]

Contents

Cunnilingus can be sexually arousing for participants and may be performed by a sexual partner as foreplay to incite sexual arousal before other sexual activities (such as vaginal or anal intercourse) [1] [6] or as an erotic and physically intimate act on its own. [1] [2] Like most forms of sexual activity, oral sex can be a risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs). However, the transmission risk for oral sex, especially HIV transmission, is significantly lower than for vaginal or anal sex. [7] [8]

Oral sex is often regarded as taboo, [1] but most countries do not have laws which ban the practice. Commonly, heterosexual couples do not regard cunnilingus as affecting the virginity of either partner, while lesbian couples commonly do regard it as a form of virginity loss. [9] [10] [11] People may also have negative feelings or sexual inhibitions about giving or receiving cunnilingus or may refuse to engage in it. [1]

Etymology and terminology

The term cunnilingus is derived from the Latin words for the vulva ( cunnus ) and the verb "to lick" ( lingō ). [12] There are numerous slang terms for cunnilingus, including "drinking from the furry cup", [13] "carpet munching", and "muff-diving". Additional common slang terms used are "giving lip", "lip service", or "tipping the velvet"; this last is an expression that novelist Sarah Waters argues that she "plucked from the relative obscurity of Victorian porn". [14] It is also popularly known in the urban community as "dining at the Y" or "DATY". A person who performs cunnilingus may be referred to as a "cunnilinguist". [15]

Practice

General

General statistics indicate that 70-80% of women require direct clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm. [16] [17] Shere Hite's research on human female sexuality reports that, for most women, orgasm is easily achieved by cunnilingus because of the direct clitoral stimulation (including stimulation to other external parts of the vulva that are physically related to the clitoris) that may be involved during the act. [18]

A person who performs cunnilingus on someone might be referred to as the giving partner, and the other person as the receiving partner. During the activity, the receiving female's partner may use fingers to open the labia majora (genital lips) to enable the tongue to better stimulate the clitoris, or the female may separate the labia for her partner. Separating the legs wide would also usually open the vulva sufficiently for the partner to orally reach the clitoris.

Some sex manuals recommend beginning with a gentler, less focused stimulation of the labia and the whole genital area. The tip, blade, or underside of the tongue may be used, and so might the nose, chin, teeth and lips. Movements can be slow or fast, regular or erratic, firm or soft, according to the participants' preferences. The tongue can be inserted into the vagina, either stiffened or moving. The performing partner may also hum to produce vibration.

Cunnilingus may be accompanied by fingering the vagina or anus, or by the use of a sex toy; for penetration of the vagina, the aim may be to stimulate an area that may be termed "the G-spot." [19]

Women may consider personal hygiene before practicing oral sex important, as poor hygiene can lead to bad odors, accumulation of sweat and micro-residue (such as lint, urine or menstrual blood), which the giving partner may find unpleasant. Some women remove or trim pubic hair, which may enhance their oral sex experience.

Autocunnilingus, which is cunnilingus performed by a female on herself, may be possible, [20] but an unusually high degree of flexibility is required, which may be possessed only by contortionists. [21] [22] [23] [24]

Specific positions

Edouard-Henri Avril's depiction of cunnilingus in the spreadeagle position Detail of Edouard-Henri Avril (23).jpg
Édouard-Henri Avril's depiction of cunnilingus in the spreadeagle position

Any position which offers a sex partner oral access to a female's crotch area is suitable for cunnilingus, including:

During menstruation

Cunnilingus may be performed during menstruation, which may be called "to earn one's red wings" in slang. [25] [26] The phrase is a reference to menstrual blood stains in the shape of a small bird's wings that are liable to form on the giving partner's cheeks during the act. [26] [27]

The red wing patch was common among the Hells Angels by the mid-1960s, [28] and the slang term continued to be known among biker gangs in the 1980s. [25] Gershon Legman saw the act/badge not only as functioning a homosocial tie, but also as reflecting a deep and primitive belief in the lifegiving powers of blood. [29]

The elder Mirabeau, in his 'Erotika Biblion' of 1783, [30] saw cunnilingus during menstruation as an extreme act, linked with the submissive worship of the Mother goddess, [31] and by extension to the Black Mass. [32]

Health aspects

Sexually transmitted infections

Chlamydia, human papillomavirus (HPV), gonorrhea, herpes, hepatitis (multiple strains), and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs), can be transmitted through oral sex. [7] [33] [34] Any sexual exchange of bodily fluids with a person infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, poses a risk of infection. Risk of STI infection, however, is generally considered significantly lower for oral sex than for vaginal or anal sex, with HIV transmission considered the lowest risk with regard to oral sex. [7] [8] [35] [36] Furthermore, the documented risk of HIV transmission through cunnilingus is lower than that associated with fellatio, vaginal or anal intercourse. [7]

There is an increased risk of STI if the receiving partner has wounds on her genitals, or if the giving partner has wounds or open sores on or in his or her mouth, or bleeding gums. [7] [8] Brushing the teeth, flossing, or undergoing dental work soon before or after performing cunnilingus can also increase the risk of transmission, because all of these activities can cause small scratches in the lining of the mouth. [7] [8] [37] These wounds, even when they are microscopic, increase the chances of contracting STIs that can be transmitted orally under these conditions. [7] [8] Such contact can also lead to more mundane infections from common bacteria and viruses found in, around and secreted from the genital regions. Because of the aforementioned factors, medical sources advise the use of effective barrier methods when performing or receiving cunnilingus with a partner whose STI status is unknown. [7] [8] [34]

Cunnilingus during menstruation is considered high risk for the partner performing cunnilingus because there may be a high concentration of virus in menstrual blood, [38] such as hepatitis B. [39]

HPV and oral cancer

Links have been reported between oral sex and oral cancer with human papillomavirus (HPV)-infected people. [40] A 2005 research study suggested that performing unprotected oral sex on a person infected with HPV might increase the risk of oral cancer. The study found that 36 percent of the cancer patients had HPV compared to only 1 percent of the healthy control group. [41]

A 2007 study found a correlation between oral sex and throat cancer. [42] [43] It is believed that this is due to the transmission of HPV, a virus that has been implicated in the majority of cervical cancers and which has been detected in throat cancer tissue in numerous studies. The study concludes that people who had one to five oral sex partners in their lifetime had approximately a doubled risk of throat cancer compared with those who never engaged in this activity, and those with more than five oral sex partners had a 250 percent increased risk.

Mechanical trauma to the tongue

The lingual frenulum (underside of the tongue) is vulnerable to ulceration by repeated friction during sexual activity ("cunnilingus tongue"). [44] Ulceration of the lingual frenulum caused by cunnilingus is horizontal, the lesion corresponding to the contact of the under surface of the tongue with the edges of the lower front teeth when the tongue is in its most forward position. This type of lesion resolves in 7–10 days, but may recur with repeated performances. Chronic ulceration at this site can cause linear fibrous hyperplasia. The incisal edges of the mandibular teeth can be smoothed to minimize the chance of trauma. [45]

Cultural and religious views

General views

A man performing cunnilingus on a woman at a formal party, depicted by French artist Achille Deveria Achille Deveria erotism.jpg
A man performing cunnilingus on a woman at a formal party, depicted by French artist Achille Devéria
An Orientalist depiction of cunnilingus by Achille Deveria OttomanCunnilingusOrientalism.jpg
An Orientalist depiction of cunnilingus by Achille Devéria

Cultural views on giving or receiving cunnilingus range from aversion to high regard. [1] It has been considered taboo, or discouraged, in many cultures and parts of the world. [1] In Chinese Taoism, cunnilingus is revered as a spiritually-fulfilling practice that is believed to enhance longevity. [46] In modern Western culture, oral sex is widely practiced among adolescents [47] and adults. Laws of some jurisdictions regard cunnilingus as penetrative sex for the purposes of sexual offenses with regard to the act, but most countries do not have laws which ban the practice, in contrast to anal sex or extramarital sex.

People give various reasons for their dislike or reluctance to perform cunnilingus, or having cunnilingus performed on them. Some regard cunnilingus and other forms of oral sex as unnatural because the practices do not result in reproduction. [48] Some cultures attach symbolism to different parts of the body, leading some people to believe that cunnilingus is ritually unclean or humiliating. [49]

While commonly believed that lesbian sexual practices involve cunnilingus for all women who have sex with women, some lesbian or bisexual women dislike cunnilingus due to not liking the experience or due to psychological or social factors, such as regarding it as unclean. [50] [51] [52] Other lesbian or bisexual women believe that it is a necessity or largely defines lesbian sexual activity. [51] [52] Lesbian couples are more likely to consider a woman's dislike of cunnilingus as a problem than heterosexual couples are, and it is common for them to seek therapy to overcome inhibitions regarding it. [51]

Oral sex is also commonly used as a means of preserving virginity, especially among heterosexual pairings; this is sometimes termed technical virginity (which additionally includes anal sex, mutual masturbation and other non-penetrative sex acts, but excludes penile-vaginal sex). [9] [10] [53] [54] The concept of "technical virginity" or sexual abstinence through oral sex is particularly popular among teenagers. [10] [37] [55] By contrast, lesbian pairings commonly consider oral sex or fingering as resulting in virginity loss, though definitions of virginity loss vary among lesbians as well. [9] [11] [56]

Taoism

Cunnilingus is accorded a revered place in Taoism. This is because the practice was believed to achieve longevity, by preventing the loss of semen, vaginal and other bodily liquids, whose loss is believed to bring about a corresponding loss of vitality. Conversely, by either semen retention or ingesting the secretions from the vagina, a male or female can conserve and increase his/her ch'i, or original vital breath. [57]

According to Philip Rawson (in Paz, p. 97), these half-poetic, half-medicinal metaphors explain the popularity of cunnilingus among people: "The practice was an excellent method of imbibing the precious feminine fluid" (Paz, p. 97). But the Taoist ideal is not just about the male being enriched by female secretions; the female also benefits from her communion with the male, a feature that has led the sinologist, Kristofer Schipper, to denounce the ancient handbooks on the "Art of the Bedroom" as embracing a "kind of glorified male vampirism" that is not truly Taoist at all. [58] Ideally, by mingling the male and female liquids the Taoist aims to reconcile opposites and to recapture the mythical time that existed before the division of the sexes, the primordial time of the original ch'i.

See also

Related Research Articles

Anal sex Insertion of the penis into the anus, or other sexual activity involving the anus

Anal sex or anal intercourse is generally the insertion and thrusting of the erect penis into a person's anus, or anus and rectum, for sexual pleasure. Other forms of anal sex include fingering, the use of sex toys for anal penetration, oral sex performed on the anus (anilingus), and pegging. Although anal sex most commonly means penile–anal penetration, sources sometimes use anal intercourse to exclusively denote penile–anal penetration, and anal sex to denote any form of anal sexual activity, especially between pairings as opposed to anal masturbation.

Clitoris Female sex organ

The clitoris is a female sex organ present in mammals, ostriches and a limited number of other animals. In humans, the visible portion – the glans – is at the front junction of the labia minora, above the opening of the urethra. Unlike the penis, the male homologue (equivalent) to the clitoris, it usually does not contain the distal portion of the urethra and is therefore not used for urination. The clitoris also usually lacks a reproductive function. While few animals urinate through the clitoris or use it reproductively, the spotted hyena, which has an especially large clitoris, urinates, mates, and gives birth via the organ. Some other mammals, such as lemurs and spider monkeys, also have a large clitoris.

Fellatio Oral sex on the penis by a sexual partner

Fellatio is an oral sex act involving the use of the mouth or throat performed by a person on the penis of another person. Oral stimulation of the scrotum may also be termed fellatio, or colloquially as teabagging. If fellatio is performed on oneself, the act is called autofellatio.

Orgasm is the sudden discharge of accumulated sexual excitement during the sexual response cycle, resulting in rhythmic muscular contractions in the pelvic region characterized by sexual pleasure. Experienced by males and females, orgasms are controlled by the involuntary or autonomic nervous system. They are usually associated with involuntary actions, including muscular spasms in multiple areas of the body, a general euphoric sensation and, frequently, body movements and vocalizations. The period after orgasm is typically a relaxing experience, attributed to the release of the neurohormones oxytocin and prolactin as well as endorphins.

Sexual intercourse Copulation for reproduction or sexual pleasure, or other penetrative sex acts for sexual pleasure.

Sexual intercourse is sexual activity typically involving the insertion and thrusting of the penis into the vagina for sexual pleasure, reproduction, or both. This is also known as vaginal intercourse or vaginal sex. Other forms of penetrative sexual intercourse include anal sex, oral sex, fingering, and penetration by use of a dildo. These activities involve physical intimacy between two or more individuals and are usually used among humans solely for physical or emotional pleasure and can contribute to human bonding.

Vagina part of the female genital tract

In mammals, the vagina is the elastic, muscular part of the female genital tract. In humans, it extends from the vulva to the cervix. The outer vaginal opening is normally partly covered by a membrane called the hymen. At the deep end, the cervix bulges into the vagina. The vagina allows for sexual intercourse and birth. It also channels menstrual flow (menses), which occurs in humans and closely related primates as part of the monthly menstrual cycle.

G-spot Anatomical detail of human female sexual organ

The G-spot, also called the Gräfenberg spot, is characterized as an erogenous area of the vagina that, when stimulated, may lead to strong sexual arousal, powerful orgasms and potential female ejaculation. It is typically reported to be located 5–8 cm (2–3 in) up the front (anterior) vaginal wall between the vaginal opening and the urethra and is a sensitive area that may be part of the female prostate.

A sex position is a position of the body that people use for sexual intercourse or other sexual activities. Sexual acts are generally described by the positions the participants adopt in order to perform those acts. Though sexual intercourse generally involves penetration of the body of one person by another, sex positions commonly involve penetrative or non-penetrative sexual activities.

Missionary position

The missionary position or man-on-top position is a sex position in which, generally, a woman lies on her back and a man lies on top of her while they face each other and engage in vaginal intercourse. The position may also be used for other sexual activity, such as anal sex. It is commonly associated with heterosexual sexual activity, but is also used by same-sex couples.

Doggy style Sex position

Doggy style is a sex position in which a person bends over, crouches on all fours, or lies on their abdomen, for sexual intercourse, other forms of sexual penetration or other sexual activity. Doggy style is a form of a rear-entry position, others being with the receiving partner lying on the side in the spoons sex position or the reverse cowgirl sex position. Non-penetrative sex in this position may also be regarded as doggy style.

Tribadism Vulva-to-vulva sexual contact or the vulva rubbed against other body parts

Tribadism or tribbing, commonly known by its scissoring position, is a lesbian sexual practice in which a woman rubs her vulva against her partner's body for sexual stimulation, especially for stimulation of the clitoris. This may involve vulva-to-vulva contact or rubbing the vulva against the partner's thigh, stomach, buttocks, arm, or other body part. A variety of sex positions are practiced, including the missionary position.

Oral sex Sexual activity involving the stimulation of the genitalia by the use of the mouth

Oral sex, sometimes referred to as oral intercourse, is sexual activity involving the stimulation of the genitalia of a person by another person using the mouth and the throat. Cunnilingus is oral sex performed on the vulva or vagina, while fellatio is oral sex performed on the penis. Anilingus, another form of oral sex, is oral stimulation of the anus. Oral stimulation of other parts of the body, such as by kissing or licking, is not considered oral sex.

Fingering (sexual act) The use of fingers to sexually stimulate

Fingering is typically the use of fingers or hands to sexually stimulate the vulva or vagina. Vaginal fingering is legally and medically called digital penetration or digital penetration of the vagina. Fingering may also include the use of fingers to sexually stimulate the anus.

Forced orgasm Consensual BDSM play involving powerlessness and orgasms

A forced orgasm is consensual BDSM or kinky sexual play whereby a person consents to be forced to orgasm in a way that is beyond their control. The person being brought to involuntary orgasm would typically be put in physical restraints to deprive them of the ability to control the onset and intensity of orgasm, and to increase the feeling of helplessness, a situation which some people find sexually arousing.

Vibrator (sex toy)

A vibrator, sometimes described as a massager, is a sex toy that is used on the body to produce pleasurable sexual stimulation. There are many different shapes and models of vibrators. Most 2010-era vibrators contain an electric-powered device which pulsates or throbs. Vibrators can be used for both solo play and partnered play by one or more people. Devices exist to be used by couples to stimulate the genitals of both partners. They can be applied to erogenous zones, such as the clitoris, the vulva or vagina, penis, scrotum or anus, for sexual stimulation, for the release of sexual frustration and to achieve orgasm. Vibrators may be recommended by sex therapists for women who have difficulty reaching orgasm through masturbation or intercourse.

Non-penetrative sex Sexual activity that usually does not include sexual penetration

Non-penetrative sex or outercourse is sexual activity that usually does not include sexual penetration. It generally excludes the penetrative aspects of vaginal, anal, or oral sexual activity, but includes various forms of sexual and non-sexual activity, such as frottage, mutual masturbation, kissing, or cuddling. Some forms of non-penetrative sex, particularly when termed outercourse, include penetrative aspects, such as penetration that may result from forms of fingering or oral sex.

Lesbian sexual practices Sexual practices between women

Lesbian sexual practices are sexual activities involving women who have sex with women, regardless of their sexual orientation. A woman who has sex with another woman may identify as a lesbian if she is sexually attracted to women, or bisexual if she is not exclusively sexually attracted to women, or dispense with sexual identification altogether. The term may also be applied to a heterosexual or asexual woman who is unsure of or is exploring her sexuality.

Human female sexuality encompasses a broad range of behaviors and processes, including female sexual identity and sexual behavior, the physiological, psychological, social, cultural, political, and spiritual or religious aspects of sexual activity. Various aspects and dimensions of female sexuality, as a part of human sexuality, have also been addressed by principles of ethics, morality, and theology. In almost any historical era and culture, the arts, including literary and visual arts, as well as popular culture, present a substantial portion of a given society's views on human sexuality, which include both implicit (covert) and explicit (overt) aspects and manifestations of feminine sexuality and behavior.

Handjob

A handjob is a sex act, performed as either foreplay or as non-penetrative sex, that involves the manual stimulation of a man's penis or scrotum by another person to induce an erection for sexual pleasure, sexual arousal and sometimes resulting in orgasm and ejaculation.

Anilingus Stimulating the anus of another person by the use of one’s mouth

Anilingus is the oral and anal sex act in which a person stimulates the anus of another by using the mouth, including lips, tongue, or teeth. It is also called anal–oral contact and anal–oral sex, and is additionally known by slang names.

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Further reading